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Manhattan Underground Rises
With Rob Roth's
Screen Test

Written by Kristina Weise

Photographed by
Gaetano Salvadore


Often times I hear friends discuss (with disheartened breath) the fact that the artistic flare of New York City has dissipated under the shadows of the new condos and popped-collar clubs festering Ludlow Street; that the Manhattan that once was is no longer. They blame Midtown’s money and the American Apparel Stores which squat on every corner and turn out clones in purple leggings.

But just as the populace is supposedly about to be swept under a rising current of mediocrity, New York City artist and director Rob Roth is proving once again that he is nothing short of the incarnate mad man once described by Jack Kerouac as “the mad ones, the ones mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

On Saturday, January 12th and Sunday, January 13th at 89:30 PM, Rob Roth’s Screen Test will debut at the Abrons Arts Center as part of the Performance Space 122 COIL Festival, an annual winter festival of theatre, dance, new music and multi-media.

The set is a visually stunning, post-apocalyptic atmosphere that presents a beautiful collision of video installation and rock show. An unnerving monologue takes us through the rollercoaster that is Screen Test, which was developed by Rob Roth and features music by New York’s favorite inked trio, Theo & The Skyscrapers. It challenges the audience to define what is real and artificial, what role fantasy plays in survival and how the political and media landscapes of fear affect our current mindset.

“Working with Rob Roth is a really serious and almost unbelievable marriage of minds and talents between him, me and the band. It is beautiful,” stated Theo Kogan, the muse and showstopper of Screen Test. “I trust Rob in a way that you have to in doing this sort of collaboration, meaning, I know that anything he comes up with is going to be amazing and I don't have to worry that I won't like it, because I know I will love it!”

Screen Test features original music from Theo & The Skyscrapers with a new song this year (without lyrics) written by guitarist Sean Pierce (along with a few other musical surprises that are not yet revealed). “Screen Test is the culmination of everything I love doing at once - creating, singing, performing, dancing, ‘acting’ and being in costume,” stated Kogan.

Unarguably, Theo & The Skyscraper’s music for Screen Test directs the audience on an audible journey of momentous sound and plays a critical role in the success of the show.

Roth has experimented with “body projections,” as well as music videos for some time with Kogan, so he was naturally inclined to ask her and the band to perform in Screen Test. The first version of Screen Test was shown in April 2005. Roth and Kogan received exceptionally positive feedback and last year the production graced the main stage of PS122 to open The Winter 2006 program.

“It’s like a living music video/movie performance all at once and an acid trip. It's an artistic way to speak out creatively against the war and our government, against the media fucking with our minds and questioning, and celebratory of the old Hollywood 1940's - 50's feminine ideal. The performance is full of gorgeous people and twisted sexuality.”

The waters might be rising on this island, but Screen Test is delaying our final breaths. It offers a provocative and refreshingly honest performance in which viewers will find themselves talking about it well after the final curtain call.

If the last run is any indicator, this show will sell out. For tickets, log onto:
The Abrons Art Center is located at 466 Grand Street in Manhattan.

For more information about Theo, log onto:


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